By Melvin Kamara (YES 2021-2022, Liberia, placed by AFS-USA in Cedar Hill, TX)
When I first arrived in Texas in August, I was nervous about meeting my new host family and being away from my own family for so long. I had the misconception that Americans dislike African people. As excited as I was for my YES year, I was also nervous about what it would be like to live in America; I wasn't sure what to expect.
When I first met my host father, he was so kind and welcoming to me. At first, I thought that he was only being kind because I had just arrived, but he soon proved that he is truly just a compassionate and warm-hearted individual. My host dad takes me to new places, and teaches me everything I want to know. Together, we have gone to cultural events and volunteered together, and my host dad has encouraged me to make new friends in my host school. Although he often works late, he will always prepare dinner when he gets home and we’ll discuss our days and our life experiences.
Through our conversations, my host father has taught me so many things about his philosophy and views on the world. We’ve discussed perseverance and pragmatism, and he taught me how to forgive and give others second chances. He also taught me how important it is to give back to your community and the importance of diversity. I never thought that my host father could make my exchange experience so great. My words are inadequate to express my gratitude to the U.S Department of State and the YES program for giving me this amazing experience. When I was younger, I never imagined that I could have a home away from home, but now I know that I have already found one.
My message to every person who has been unable to visit America and is basing their assumptions on TV and social media is that that is not the real America. America is a place of harmony and tolerance, and Americans are the most caring and lovely people I have ever met.